Gov. John Carney on Monday modified his March 12 emergency declaration to limit Delaware restaurants, taverns and bars to take-out and delivery service only, to help prevent spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Carney’s updated emergency declaration — which takes effect at 8 p.m. tonight, March 16 — also bans public gatherings of 50 or more people, consistent with updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and closes gaming activity at Delaware casinos.
Monday’s modification to Carney’s emergency declaration also gives Delaware’s Secretary of Labor authorization to develop emergency rules to protect Delaware workers and ensure that unemployment benefits are available for Delawareans whose jobs are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
“These restrictions will hit Delaware’s restaurants and bars especially hard,” said Carney. “Delawareans should continue to support these businesses, and their workers, by ordering take-out or delivery. Restaurants also remain a critical source of food for vulnerable populations. But this is a very serious situation, with a significant amount of uncertainty. If you gather with 50 people or more, you are only increasing the risk that more Delawareans will come in contact with this virus. Let’s not make a challenging situation worse.”
On Thursday, March 12, Carney issued a State of Emergency declaration to mobilize state resources to prepare for the spread of coronavirus across Delaware.
The details of the modified declaration include:
- Effective March 16 at 8 p.m., organizers and sponsors of public gatherings of 50 or more people shall cancel the gatherings immediately and not reschedule them until after May 15, or the public health threat of COVID-19 has been eliminated.
- Effective March 16 at 8 p.m. all restaurants, bars and taverns shall only provide food and beverage service through take-out, drive through and off-premises delivery. No indoor or outdoor seating for food or beverage service, including the use of outdoor patios, is permitted. This restriction shall not apply to food service provided within hospitals to hospital staff/employees, patients and patient visitors.
- Effective March 16 at 8 p.m., all casinos operating in the state shall cease gaming operations.
- Owners and operators of places of public accommodation (excluding grocery stores, pharmacies and similar establishments that sell food, cleaning supplies and health needs for people and animals) are strongly encouraged to do the following: ensure that no more than 50 people are present in the space at the same time and provide the precautions recommended by the CDC on COVID-19, including hand hygiene and social distancing.
- No senior center, nursing home/retirement facility, assisted-living facility etc. shall knowingly permit a gathering of more than 10 persons that includes any person aged 60 or over or any person with an underlying health condition that puts any person in attendance at increased risk if exposed to COVID-19.
Individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness, including those age 60 or older with underlying health conditions, are strongly encouraged to avoid gatherings of more than 10 persons unless the CDC COVID-19 guidelines can be followed, including at senior centers, nursing home/retirement facilities and assisted living facilities.
- DEMA and DPH are authorized to cancel gatherings should it be deemed necessary for public health reasons.
- The Delaware Secretary of Labor is authorized to develop emergency rules, amending the Delaware Unemployment Insurance Code, effective Monday, March 16, such emergency rules to remain in effect until the State of Emergency declaration has been rescinded. These rules should enhance the flexibility of the unemployment insurance program in response to COVID-19, and alleviate some of the burden of temporary layoffs, isolation and quarantine by ensuring unemployment benefits are available to individuals whose employment has been impacted directly by COVID-19.
Delawareans with questions about COVID-19 or their exposure risk can call the Division of Public Health’s Coronavirus Call Center at 1-866-408-1899 or 711 for people who are hearing impaired from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, or email DPHCall@delaware.gov. For the latest on Delaware’s response, go to de.gov/coronavirus.